CHAPTER 3 Memory, Perception, and Policy Making Abstract This chapter conceptualizes how historical memory influences the actor’s interpretation and understanding of the external world, especially in a specific situation such as a crisis or conflict. A few frameworks are developed to conceptualize the function of historical memory as the lens and motivational tool, and the conditions where historical memory influences the decision-making process. This chapter also discusses research methods regarding perception and attitude, especially about how to identify and measure the influences of historical memory in actors’ perception. Keywords Historical memory · Perception · Policy making · Conflict Humans have a limited capacity to organize and analyze data.1 Consequently, we must rely on simplifying mechanisms to process (code, store, and recall) the massive amounts of information we encounter in our daily lives. Frames are shortcuts that people use to help make sense of complex information. Often, these frames are built on underlying structures derived from beliefs, values, and experiences. These differ across cultures and nationalities. In addition, frames often exist prior to conscious decision-making and can affect subsequent decisions. Consequently, the nature of how and when frames are formed, factions are separated not only by differences in interests, beliefs, and values, but also in how they © The Author(s) 2018 Z. Wang, Memory Politics, Identity and Conflict, Memory Politics and Transitional Justice, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-62621-5_3 27 28 Z. Wang perceive and understand the world, both at a conscious and subconscious level. One way human beings make sense of new situations is by comparing them to previous experiences stored in memory. The history of a people profoundly influences the perception they have of the world around them, and historical memory often functions as important information processors. Historical memory influences actors’ interpretation and understanding of the external world and a particular situation. This often leads actors to endow practices with group purposes and to interpret the world through frames defined in part by those purposes. This chapter discusses how historical memory influences an actors’ interpretation and understanding of the external world, particularly during a conflict and the conditions where historical memory influences the decision-making process. A few frameworks are introduced to conceptualize the function of historical memory as the lens and motivational tool. This chapter also provides frameworks on how to conduct research to identify the functions of historical memory in policy making. Framing and Reframing Collective memory is of special importance during a seemingly intractable conflict. According to Bar-Tal, the beliefs of collective memory fulfill the epistemic function of illuminating the situation of conflict. He considers four important themes which collective memory influence the perception of the conflict and its management:2 (1) Collective memory can justify the outbreak of the conflict and the course of its development; (2) In intractable conflicts, a group’s beliefs of collective memory present positive images of the group itself, as the group engages in intense selfjustification, self-glorification, and self-praise; (3) The beliefs of collective memory delegitimize the opponent; (4) A group’s beliefs of collective memory present its own group as being a victim of the opponent. In the context of a conflict, we create frames to help us understand why the conflict exists, what actions are important to the conflict, why the parties act as they do, and how we should act in response. During the evolution of a conflict, frames act as sieves through which information is gathered and analyzed, positions are determined (including priorities, means, and solutions), and action plans developed. Depending on the context, framing may be used to conceptualize and interpret, or to manipulate and convince.3 3 MEMORY, PERCEPTION, AND POLICY MAKING 29 Historical memory as a lens Conflict Situation Perception & Attitude Interpretation Judgment Emotions Victimization Justification Motivation Conflict Behavior Fig. 3.1 Historical memory as a lens As some scholars suggest, frames are built upon an underlying structure of beliefs, values, and experiences.4 Strong collective memories of past conflicts are often important sources of frames. In addition, frames often exist prior to conscious processing of information for decisionmaking and affect subsequent individual decisions. Disputants often construct frames that differ in significant ways. Thus, disputants are separated not only by differences in interests, beliefs, and values, but also in how they perceive and understand the world, both at a conscious and preconscious level.5 Although history and memory are, rarely by themselves, the direct causes of conflict, they provide the “lens” by which we view and bring into focus our world; through this lens, differences are refracted, and conflict ensues.6 The lens of historical memory helps both the masses and the elites interpret the present situation and decide on future policies.7 The existing literature suggests that each party to a conflict or dispute has its own unique understanding of the sources of conflict and relevance of various issues. This includes the opportunities and risks associated with different choices.8 Each of these factors can be considered a set of lenses through which the various parties view the conflict and form the basis of their actions. Figure 3.1 provides an intellectual map that conceptualizes the function of historical memory as a lens and its relationship with perception and behavior. Each party to a conflict or dispute has their own perception and understanding of the sources of conflict, the relevance of various issues, their priorities, and the opportunities and risks involved with different choices.9 This assemblage of factors can be considered as a set of lenses, or conceptual frames, through which the various parties view the conflict. Differing conceptual frames held by the parties involved in a dispute form the basis on which they act. 30 Z. Wang Historical memory can affect the way actors come to understand and interpret the outside world and incoming information. Socially shared images of the past allow a group to foster social cohesion, to develop and defend social identification, and to justify current attitudes and needs. During conflicts, leaders often try to evoke memories of past traumas to spur people to action and make the group more cohesive. Historical enmity thus acts much like an amplifier in an electrical circuit.10 The lens of historical memory influences both the masses and the elites to interpret the present and make decisions on policy. For example, in Zheng Wang’ book Never Forget National Humiliation, the author provides detailed accounts on how a deep historical sense of victimization by outside powers, a long-held suspicion of foreign conspiracies against China, and the powerful governmental education and propaganda campaigns on historical humiliation have worked together to construct a special Chinese “culture of insecurity.” Thus, this culture of insecurity has become the frame by which the Chinese interpret presentday events, and influences their reactions and demands to rectify perceived humiliation.11 Interpretations of history often force unprepared and caught-off-guard governments to deal with internal and external challenges to conventional views of memory and history, especially when dealing with sensitive issues of national pride and international honor.12 Conflict resolution can be profoundly difficult in these situations. Scholars have noted that collective memory and history often become tools for elites and states to mobilize mass support. For instance, political elites often use past traumas for implementing their goals; this is especially true in moments of crisis when people tend to more fervently cling to the past. If a group’s identity is challenged, undermined, or even shattered, memories are often used and manipulated to reaffirm group bonds and reinforce a sense of self and community.13 Jerzy Jedlicki analyzes two ways “a vivid historical memory fans the flame of current animosities:” First, it does so through the process of sanctification of some historical events that transforms their dates, places, actors and relics into powerful symbols, and the stories into unifying myths. Secondly, a memory of collective wrongs and losses suffered in the past from another nation, but also an awareness, however dim, of one’s own nation’s responsibility for wrongs done to other peoples, burden the present conflict with strong resentments and make it appear to be either a historical repetition, or a historical redress.14 3 MEMORY, PERCEPTION, AND POLICY MAKING 31 The link between historical memory and the rise of nationalism is essential to note because myths, memories, traditions, and symbols of ethnic heritage are what gives nationalism its power. Perhaps even more importantly, it is the way by which these idealizations of the past can be rediscovered and reinterpreted by modern nationalist intellectual elite.15 An important indicator that identity violence may be forthcoming is nationalist (or religious) myths justifying hostility against another group. These myths are evident in national media, school curricula, official government documents and speeches, popular literature, and history. The more hostile the myths or ideology, the more likely violence is to occur.16 There is also a significant link between historical memory and political legitimacy. This link is best evidenced by the attempt of nationalist movements to create a master commemorative narrative that emphasizes a common past and ensures a common destiny.17 Political leaders often use historical memory to bolster their own legitimacy, promote their own interests, encourage a nationalistic spirit, and mobilize mass support. The politics of memory has proven to be central in the transition to democracy throughout the world.18 Perceptions of the past are essential in both de-legitimating previous regimes and in grounding new claims to political legitimacy. By shaping collective memory, governments can uphold their own legitimacy and find reasons to topple that of others. Collective memory is of special importance during a seemingly irresolvable conflict. It influences people’s approaches to conflict and its management in several ways. Firstly, it can justify the outbreak of the conflict and the course of its development. If you believe you have been historically wronged, you are more likely to engage in conflict. Secondly, in intractable conflicts, a group’s beliefs of collective memory present positive images of the group itself, as it engages in intense self-justification, self-glorification, and self-praise. A history of victimization and endurance can help build a group’s self-esteem as the group members begin to see themselves as the progeny of a longline of survivors. Thirdly, the beliefs of collective memory delegitimize the opponent. A group’s memory of previous wrongs will keep the members from seeing the conflict through their opponents’ eyes. Finally, a group’s beliefs of collective memory present its own group as being a victim of the opponent.19 These four influences create an inextricable web which often keeps groups engaged in conflict. Framing and reframing are also vital to the conflict management and reconciliation process. Analyzing the frames people use in a given conflict 32 Z. Wang provides fresh insight and better understanding of the conflict dynamics and development of said conflict. More importantly, with the help of reframing, stakeholders may find new ways to reach agreements.20 Thus, the processes of reconciliation, negotiation, or joint problem solving can be seen as the processes of reframing. Reframing may pave ways for resolving, or at least better managing, a dispute. An important reason why many deep-rooted conflicts find it challenging to realize reconciliation is because reframing a group’s collective memories is so difficult. Scholars ask whether it is possible to reframe the past for the purpose of promoting reconciliation and peace.21 As discussed before, a group’s collective memory has been in formation for a long time. This memory has been shaped and influenced by many factors including the state’s manipulation, social narratives, school education, and popular culture. It’s probably easy for people outside to say that a group of people should “move forward” and to forget the past grievance for the purpose of reconciliation and maximizing the current common interests, however, for the group themselves, historical memory of past trauma is actually the key elements of constructing their national identity. A new narrative or national story of the past conflicts is first not easy to be created, and then the change of “stories” and “narratives” would almost mean to re-create a nation and would take a very long time. It is not realistic to expect a brand-new master narrative or national story to be created out of nothing. Analogy is a cognitive process of transferring information or meaning from a particular subject (the analogue or source) to another (the target). Historical memories provide individuals a reservoir of shared symbols and analogies that may be enlisted to define contesting social groups.22 These analogies often help reconcile conflicting incoming information in ways consistent with the expectations of the analogy. Historical memory can be easily activated when an out-group’s mischievous behavior causes suffering of the in-group. Leaders do not merely justify policies using historical analogies, but also an essential component of the decision-making process. In Analogies at War, Foong Yuen Khong shows historical analogies are also used as an essential basis for information processing in political decision-making. Historical analogy can infer that if two or more events have one similarity, they may have another, “AX:BX:AY:BY–because event A resembles event B in having characteristic X, and A also has characteristic Y; it is inferred that B also has characteristic Y.”23 3 MEMORY, PERCEPTION, AND POLICY MAKING 33 Analogy plays a significant role in problem solving, as well as decisionmaking, perception, memory, creativity, emotion, explanation, and communication. These historical analogies often form the basis for foreign policy and political propaganda. Scholars have also discussed how US policy makers routinely resort to historical analogies. Khong’s research examines how American policy makers, from World War I to Operation Desert Storm, continually emphasize “lessons of history” when debating whether or not to go to war.24 There have also been comparisons made between the Iraq War and Vietnam War,25 and an increased discussion about the different responses America had to the 9–11 attack as opposed to Pearl Harbor.26 Political elites also use historical analogies to persuade and influence opinions. For example, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, in January 2014, Japanese Prime Minister Abe said that rising tensions between China and Japan today were similar to the competition between Germany and Britain before World War I. According to Abe, a “similar situation” existed in both cases because strong trade ties were not sufficient to overcome strategic rivalry.27 Obviously, he wanted his audience to view modern China as being as dangerous as Germany in 1914. A number of factors affect the strength of historical analogies, including the relevance of the known similarities, the amount and variety of the examples in the analogy, and the number of shared characteristics among the things being compared. For example, today’s China and Japan indeed share some similarities to Britain and Germany before 1914, such as close economic ties and security rivalries. At the same time, the size, amount, and level of the economic ties between the two groups of states during the two periods of time have significant differences. Furthermore, the basic structure of the world has changed from one of imperialism to one of globalization. Also, although modern Japan undoubtedly shares many similarities with pre-war Japan, the country’s political institutions, decision-making structures, society, and foreign relations have all experienced dramatic and fundamental changes. Thus, many so-called similarities are actually incomparable and irrelevant. It is therefore irresponsible for scholars to spread various historical analogies and “lessons of history,” and it is dangerous for political leaders to use historical analogies to mobilize support. These ready-to-use analogies could make people believe everything is doomed, and therefore not make strong efforts to uphold peace and to create new opportunities for reconciliation. 34 Z. Wang As Tidwell suggests, “Without a good sense of history, no conflict can be understood in a meaningful way for resolution. The importance of history cannot be over-emphasized.”28 In many deep-rooted conflicts, past problems become the ghosts for current realities and frequently affect current relationship. Historically, poor relationships and suspicions between two sides initially impede constructive discussion.29 When an emergency happens and when decision makers are under pressure to make decisions, especially when an incident has caused one side’s sufferings (e.g., casualties and injuries), history and memory (through historical analogies and cognitive processing) are easily activated and play the greatest role during the selection and rejection of policy options. They exert their impact by influencing the assessments and evaluations policy makers must make in order to choose between alternative options. Three Causal Pathways of Beliefs In their book “Ideas and Foreign Policy: An Analytical Framework,” Robert Keohane, Judith Goldstein, and their colleagues examine the role of ideas in foreign policy formation and present a method for analyzing how ideas explain political outcomes. They define “ideas” as “beliefs held by individuals” or “cognitive content of collective identity.”30 As discussed before, collective historical memory often solidifies the ideas a group holds about its members and its adversaries. Keohane and Goldstein identify three “causal pathways” in which ideas, including those constituting historical memory, can influence policy behavior: when ideas serve as road maps, as special equilibrium, and when ideas become institutionalized.31 Because individuals often have incomplete information when evaluating policy, the ideas and belief systems that individuals hold, therefore, become important elements in the explanation of policy choices. When faced with the uncertainty of policy making, beliefs and ideas can function as road maps in three ways. An actor’s interpretation or judgment of the scenario may be influenced by his or her ideas, limiting the options available to them by excluding variables or rejecting information that could lead to an alternative course of action. Here, ideas are limiting policy choices by filtering out alternatives. Ethical or moral justifications for action are also strongly influenced by one’s beliefs and ideas. And, finally, behavior is guided by ideas and beliefs stipulating casual patterns. 3 MEMORY, PERCEPTION, AND POLICY MAKING 35 Second, ideas can contribute to outcomes in the absence of a unique equilibrium. Ideas may serve as focal points that define cooperative solutions or act as coalitional glue to facilitate the cohesion of particular groups. When political actors must choose between outcomes with no “objective” criteria on which to base choices, ideas often focus expectations and strategies. Political elites may settle on a course of action on the basis of shared cultural, normative, religious, ethnic, or causal beliefs while other policies may be ignored. Ideas or identity can act as causal factors in influencing policy behavior by coordinating cooperation and group cohesion; however, they can also contribute to outcomes by the opposite way—causing conflict and disorder. Third, once ideas or beliefs have become institutionalized, they constrain public policy.32 The term institutionalization is used here to denote the process of embedding particular values and norms within an organization, social system, or society. Once these ideas are institutionalized, they can have lasting impact for generations to come. When institutions intervene, the impact of ideas may be prolonged for decades or even generations. In this sense, ideas can have an impact even when people no longer genuinely believe in them as a principled or causal statement. Furthermore, once a policy choice leads to the creation of reinforcing organizational and normative structures, the policy idea can impact the incentives of political entrepreneurs long after the interests of its initial proponents have changed.33 In summary, ideas influence policy when the principled or causal beliefs they embody provide road maps that increase actors’ clarity about goals or ends–means relationships, when they affect outcomes of strategic situations in which there is no unique equilibrium, and when they become embedded in political institutions. In order to find out whether the ideas of historical memory act as road maps and/or focal points in a group’s policy and practice behavior, specific questions concerning the three aspects need to be answered. These questions are outlined in Table (3.1). The first group of questions is for the purpose of identifying whether the particular beliefs of historical memory play the role of road maps for response and behavior in conflict and uncertain situations. Based on the conceptual framework presented before, ideas and beliefs serve as road maps in three ways: (1) influencing actors’ interpretation and judgment regarding the situations; (2) providing compelling ethical or moral motivations for actions; Does historical memory act as coalitional glue to facilitate the cohesion of a group? Cooperation Have the beliefs of historical memory become embedded in political or social institutions and become institutionalized? Does historical memory cause any conflict or constitute any difficulties to the settlement and resolution of the conflict? Does historical memory stipulate causal patterns to guide behavior under conditions of uncertainty? Guideline Conflict Have political leaders used historical memory to mobilize mass support and/or justify hostility against another group? Does historical memory provide ethical or moral motivations for actions? Does historical memory influence actors’ interpretation and judgment, such as functioning as a filter that excludes other interpretations or limiting policy options for response? Research Questions Motivation & Mobilization Information Processing & Decision-making Institutionalization Equilibrium Road maps Causal Pathways Table 3.1 Three causal pathways of collective memories 36 Z. Wang 3 MEMORY, PERCEPTION, AND POLICY MAKING 37 (3) stipulating causal patterns to guide behavior under conditions of uncertainty. The second group of questions examines how the beliefs of historical memory serve as focal points or glue that coordinate cooperation and group cohesion, or whether they contribute to outcomes by the opposite way of causing conflict and disorder. The third set of questions is about whether or not historical memory has become embedded in political institutions and has been institutionalized. This analytical framework can not only be used as an integral whole for more systematic research, but can also be divided into several components to focus on particular aspects of historical memory issues. For example, one could use this framework to study how the Polish collective memories about the Katyn Forest Massacre in 1941 influenced the way some current Polish interpret the recent plane tragedy in April 2010. Or, a researcher could use these questions to design a research on how the memory of imperialist bullying in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries influenced the Chinese understanding about the NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade on May 8, 1999. The potential research questions could include the following: (1) Did the content of historical memory provide sources of frames, lens, and analogy to interpret the specific event? (2) Did the beliefs of historical memory function as filters that limit choices by excluding other variables and contrary interpretations that might suggest other choices? (3) Did the beliefs of historical memory play any role in limiting, curtailing, and creating policy options for response? This chapter examines the role of historical memory in perception, interpretation, and decision-making processes. Also included in this analytic framework is a discussion of how memories of past injustices functioned as filters, limiting choices by excluding other interpretations and options. The content of a collective identity can be cognitive. Functioning as a collective identity or collective belief, historical memory affects the way individual actors understand the world. The cognitive content of historical memory provides a source of frames, lens, and analogy to interpret the outside world. In deep-rooted conflicts, past relationships and problems, perception gaps, and psychological barriers have become obstacles for reconciliation or even normal relationship. 38 Z. Wang Notes 1. Khong Yuen Foong, Analogies at War: Korea, Munich, Dien Bien Phu, and the Veitnam Decisions of 1965 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992). 2. Daniel Bar-Tal, Intractable conflicts: Socio-psychological Foundations and Dynamics (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 148–149. 3. Linda L. Putnam and Majia Holmer, “Framing, Reframing, and Issue Development,” in Communication and Negotiation, ed. Linda L. Putnam and Michael E. Roloff (Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1992), 128–155. 4. Kaufman, Elliott, and Shumeli, “Frames, Framing, and Reframing.” 5. Ibid. 6. Kevin Avruch, Culture and Conflict Resolution (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1998). 7. Andrei S. Markovits and Simon Reich, The German Predicament (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997), 9. 8. Sanda Kaufman, Michael Elliot, and Deborah Shmueli, “Frames, Framing, and Reframing,” (September 2003), http://www.beyondintractability. org/essay/framing (accessed May 13, 2017). 9. Kaufman, Elliott and Shmueli, “Frames, Framing, and Reframing.” 10. Vamik D. Volkan, Bloodlines: From Ethnic Pride to Ethnic Terrorism (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997). 11. Zheng Wang, Never Forget National Humiliation: Historical Memory in Chinese Politics and Foreign Relations (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2012). 12. Gerrit W. Gong, ed., Memory and History in East and Southeast Asia (Washington, DC: The CSIS Press, 2001). 13. Duncan Bell, Memory, Trauma and World Politics: Reflections on the Relations Between Past and Present, ed. Duncan Bell (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 6. 14. Jerzy Jedlicki, “Historical Memory As a Source of Conflicts in Eastern Europe,” Communist and Post-Communist Studies 32 (1999): 226. 15. Anthony D. Smith, Myths and Memories of a Nation (Oxford University Press, 1999), 9. 16. Stuart J. Kaufman, Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001). 17. Yael Zerubavel, Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and Making of Israeli National Tradition (Chicago, PA: The University of Chicago Press, 1995). 18. Bell, Memory, Trauma and World Politics, 20. 3 MEMORY, PERCEPTION, AND POLICY MAKING 39 19. Daniel Bar-Tal, Share Beliefs in a Society: Social Psychological Analysis (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., 2000). 20. Ibid. 21. Dalia Gavriely-Nuri and Einat Lachover, “Reframing the Past as a Cosmopolitan Memory: Obituaries in the Israeli Daily Haaretz,” Communication Theory 22:1 (February 2012), 18. 22. Alan C. Tidwell, Conflict Resolved? A Critical Assessment of Conflict Resolution (New York, NY: Continuum, 2001). 23. Khong, Analogies at War, 101. 24. Khong, Analogies at War, 101. 25. Jeffrey Record and W. Andrew Terrill, Iraq and Vietnam: Differences, Similarities, and Insights (University Press of the Pacific, 2004). 26. David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 (Northampton, MA: Interlink Publishing Inc, 2004). 27. A New Vision from a New Japan, World Economic Forum 2014 Annual Meeting, Speech by Prime Minister Abe, Wednesday, January 22, 2014. http://japan.kantei.go.jp/96_abe/statement/201401/22speech_e.html (accessed May 9, 2017). 28. Alan Tidwell, Conflict Resolved? A Critical Assessment of Conflict Resolution (New York: Pinter, 1998), 119. 29. Michael Spangle and Myra Isenhart, Negotiation: Communication for Diverse Settings, (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2003), 27. 30. Judith Goldstein and Robert O. Keohane, “Ideas and Foreign Policy: An Analytical Framework,” in Ideas and Foreign Policy, ed. Judith Goldstein and Robert O. Keohane (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), 3–30. 31. Goldstein and Keohane, “Ideas and Foreign Policy,” 3–30. 32. Ibid. 33. Ibid.